The General Assembly is the highest authority of AER and convenes representatives of all its full members at least once a year. The General Assembly adopts among other things, the annual reports of the Thematic Committees.
This report is the compilation of actions developped and implemented within Committee 1 between the 2017 General Assembly in Sankt Pölten, Lower Austria (AT) and the 2018 General Assembly in Lillehammer, Oppland (NO).
Activities are organised in 3 categories:
- Good practice sharing
- Advocacy/ Lobbying
The AER Action plan, which brings together all the activities carried out within AER, is constantly updated.
Silver Economy Awards (SEED): ongoing
The Silver Economy Awards aim to catalyse a sustainable European digital Silver Economy movement by promoting and rewarding innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for over 50s. The Awards are an opportunity to raise awareness around the lesser-known notion of the Silver Economy. They illustrate the breadth of the consumer markets and the public spending involved and the size of the opportunities available for entrepreneurs, investors, public authorities and civil society.
This year the Silver Economy Awards replace the traditional AER Regional Innovation Award. The first Awards Ceremony took place on May 2018 in Brussels under the moral patronage from Commissioner Mariya Gabriel.
SEED is a two-year project: 10/2016 to 09/2018
ARLEM project – Capacity building for an integrated and sustainable urban development: planned
This is a joint project of the Committee of the Regions regional and local authorities focused on the Mediterranean. In this context, AER answered to the call of ARLEM – Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly in order to provide technical expertise and political support. AER expressed its interest to focus piloting actions in Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco having already implemented several actions in these geographical areas.
This project aims to reinforce the capacities of local and regional authorities from the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean both in terms of urban management and integrated urban development. AER will contribute in the capacity building activities as well as the organisation of regional conferences.
It is funded by the Finnish Development Agency and activities are planned for 2 years and six months
Citizens for Cohesion. 351 times closer to Europe: cancelled
Building on the work previously done by AER on cohesion policy, the regions of Catalonia (ES), South Ostrobothnia (FI), Trentino (IT) and West Slovenia, together with AER Cohesion Policy Task Force lead on a project on awareness raising. While the project received a very good evaluation it was not accepted.
Brokerage event in Partnership with ERRIN on health innovation: finished
After the success of the brokerage event on the green economy and innovation early 2017, we collaborated with ERRIN to stimulate project development. This resulted in the organisation of the Horizon 2020 Project Development Week.
Development of an environment project based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): in progress
YRN representatives met with AER Coordinator for European Projects & Private Partnerships Agnese Pantaloni to learn about project development steps and potential funding opportunities. The YRN will work on the definition of an EU project. The AER Secretariat Project Unit will explore calls for projects if there is still interest in developping such a project.
MULTIPLE, MULTI-layer Governance PoLicy-making for the Environment: cancelled
MULTIPLE aimed to build an ecosystem of policy-support tools and methods for a more effective, efficient policy making in the field of environmental policies. Its aim was to support the entire policy cycle from issue identification to policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation by the use of open data systems. The project was not accepted.
Migrant Entrepreneur Support Scheme Against Gap of Economic System: cancelled
This project proposal aimed to share approaches and lessons learnt for migrant entrepreneurship support schemes. Migrant entrepreneurship had been raised in specific during the 2016 Spring plenary meetings in Timis. The proposal brought together public administrations, business support organizations, non-profit organisations and NGOs, educational institutions and other organisations active in the field across cities, regions and countries. The project was not accepted.
From local to global: Connecting the Dots in the EU’s 2030 energy transition: cancelled
The theme of this project proposal was to contribute to a coherent energy transition across the EU and support progress towards a low-carbon economy in light of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets and policy framework. The consortium was led by EURACTIV.
The AER Secretariat collected letters of support from member regions: Abruzzo (IT), Catalonia (SP), Gelderland (NL), Trentino (IT). The aim was to highlight, compare and contrast Member States’ initiatives to achieve the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets, supporting the energy transition as well as the transition towards a competitive and low-carbon economy, by sharing information on best practice at the local level (regions, cities, towns) and the connection with global agreements. The project was submitted under the LIFE+ programme but was not accepted.
RAINBOW project – Raising Awareness INitiative for a Beautiful Open World: cancelled
RAINBOW aimed to transform the 2030 Agendas into policies and to launch concrete actions at local level, in order to improve the management of the territories, whilst continuing innovating and learning from one another. It focused on interdependencies between developing countries and the European Union, with focus on the neighbouring areas. ALDA was the initiator of the project. The project was not accepted
Committees Autumn Plenaries in Nancy: finished
This Autumn’s committees’ plenary took place in Nancy (FR) from the 12th to the 14th of September. The events featured a debate on culture in the digital age, a workshop on the value of data, a workshop on transport & mobility, a workshop on life-cycle approaches and the Committees Plenary meetings.
A discussion on Cohesion Policy and its advantages also took place in Nancy.
Committees Spring Plenaries in Arad: finished
The 2018 Spring Committees’ Plenaries took place in Arad (RO) on 20-22 March. The events featured a debate on innovation ecosystems, a workshop on integrated care systems, a lounge meeting on equal opportunities, a meeting of the working group on transports, a Breakfast Briefing on implementing democracy in regional policy making, a presentation of the social inclusion policies in Arad, a meeting of the Summer Academy Organising Committee and the Committees Plenary meetings.
The Committees’ Plenaries were an opportunity to develop the Committees’ work programmes.
INTERREG Europe Policy Learning Platform (IEPLP): finished
AER was a partner of the Policy Learning Platform (PLP) which is the second action of the Interreg Europe programme established to boost EU-wide policy learning and capitalisation of practices from investments on growth and jobs. The Platform aims to be a space for continuous learning where regional actors in Europe can tap into the know-how of experts and peers. The PLP was present at the European Week of Regions and Cities (formerly Open Days).
Study visit on the Energy transition: finished
The main focus of the study visit, which took place from 17-19 April, was the Gelders’ Energy agreement (GEA). This collaboration between local and regional industries, governments and NGOs’ in the province of Gelderland, Netherlands, has pledged for the province to become energy-neutral by 2050. It facilitates a co-creative process where initiatives, actors, and energy are integrated into society. See the event page.
Event on a current transversal topic: finished
Jean-Luc Vanraes, President of the AER Committee on Regional Development and Economy invited AER members to contribute to the organisation of a mtual learning event on artificial intelligence held in Brussels, on November 30th 2017. A debate at the Committee 1 Plenary meeting paved the way for this event. This event, “Artificial Intelligence: are regions up to the challenge” was organised on the same format as the event “E-health let’s find a common language” which took place in December 2016 with the contribution of very diverse stakeholders. At the event, group discussions adressed the following topics:
- Supporting innovation, attracting innovators
- The Health Revolution
- Culture In a Digital World
- Skills and Competences: racing with machines
- AI: Towards a Soulless World?
The event lead also to the publication of a series of articles on artificial intelligence and its implications for different policy areas.
Follow up on photonics: finished
On the occasion of the Timis Spring Plenaries Professor Hugo Thienpont presented the ACTPHAST programme on photonics innovation for SMEs. The information and opportunities regarding this European programme were further disseminated via the AER website. The ACTPHAST programme for photonics. See the results as at September 2017.
Conference on biomass: finished
In London AER members agreed to collaborate for the organisation of a conference on Biomass in Vojvodina. The objective was to share practices and expert lectures to show the practical possibilities of production and usage of biomass in Europe, with a preview insight in the production in Vojvodina. The event also aimed to awaken the interest of individual agricultural farms, agricultural cooperatives and clusters and regional and local governments.
Partners this year were the OECD Mission in Serbia and the Central European Initiative, with expert lectures from representatives from World Bioenergy Association, State Ministries in Serbia, University in Novi Sad, the Environment Agency Austria, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and KfW (German government-owned development bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau).
Cooperation with the World Sustainable Energy Day: finished
On the occasion of the AER Committees plenary meetings in London, members highlighted their interest in participating to the World Sustainable Energy Days in a meaningful way. A delegation of AER representatives from across Europe was able to attend the World Sustainable Energy days for free on behalf of AER.
Workshop on Public procurement for green innovation: finished
This workshop was advertised in the AER network by Oppland and was organised in the framework of the INTERREG Sweden-Norway the Bioeconomy Region project involving 4 AER members: Hedmark, Värmland, Østfold and Oppland. It aimed to address the following questions:
• How can innovative public procurement accelerate take-up of green technologies and stimulate innovation?
• How is innovative public procurement adopted in regional and local authorities to implement bioeconomy?
• How are public authorities cooperating with clusters, SMEs, industry and companies?
• What are the greatest challenges to implementing large scale innovative public procurement?
The AER Secretariat provided support with the identification of potential speakers and connected them with the organisers.
Supporting members to use the TAIEX-Environmental Implementation Review : ongoing
The AER Secretariat is disseminating information about the TAIEX-EIR peer to peer learning programme and supporting members to use this programme to gain or provide knowledge on environmental policies on topics as diverse as air quality, waste management, water management, the circular economy. This programme which is relatively easy and quick to access is a good complement to activities carried out within AER and an opportunity to access support from the Commission to carry out exchanges with other regions.
Awareness raising on sustainable mobility: ongoing
AER Chair of the working group Martin Tollen contributed to the Smart Airports event in Germany
Meeting of the AER working group on transports and mobility in Nancy: finished
Good practices from the host region were presented on smart mobility and policies aimed at supporting green innovation in the field of transports. Discussion about regulatory framework, challenges for regions and opportunities for cooperation
Digitalisation of transports: ongoing
Promote the digitalisation of transports networks both in urban and rural areas (see below as well)
Promotion of knowledge about innovative technologies in transports: ongoing
The sharing of knowledge is being carried out via:
–Workshop on the digitalisation of transports & information about the European Strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), a milestone on the path towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility (COM(2016) 766)
–cooperation with Revolve Media to highlight regional good practices in the field of transport and provide visibility to active AER members
–contribution on new mobilities & artificial intelligence at the AER event on Nov 30th “Artificial Intelligence: are regions up to the challenge?”
–New Mobility Services of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities & Communities: involvement in the European Innovation Partnership on Sustainable Cities and Communities: within the the Action Cluster Sustainable Urban Mobility, AER is involved in the New Mobility Services initiative. AER Chairman of the Working Group on Transports and Mobility, Martin Tollén attended the first meeting of this Action Cluster.
The New Mobility Services initiative is a cooperation between private and public partners (quadruple helix type of cooperation, brings together companies, NGOs, research centers & universities, and policy makers). The purpose is to establish strategic partnerships between industry and European cities & regions to develop the urban systems and infrastructures of tomorrow. It is mainly focused on urban mobility. It is open for all European regions and cities to join or to send their stakeholders
AER AT THE EUROPEAN WEEK OF CITIES AND REGIONS
Workshop on climate and energy transition: finished
Led by the region of Abruzzo, AER co-organised a climate side-event during the European Week of Regions and Cities 2017.
Workshop on the Silver Economy: finished
Led by the SEED consortium. This workshop took participants through four inspiring examples of how a Silver Economy can help regions and cities to better match the needs of their ageing population while supporting local businesses and solution providers. It was the opportunity to discuss the complementarity between these examples and the initiatives at EU level. The networking session that followed brought together potential partners around issues related to the Silver Economy.
Workshop of the INTERREG Europe Policy Learning Platform: finished
The workshop aimed at helping regions learn from the project outputs from their peers in Europe.
Cohesion Policy Activities: ongoing
Building on AER’s role in advocating for a strong cohesion policy, and following the adoption of a position paper on the future of cohesion policy post 2020 at the Bureau meeting in Sankt Pölten, Lower Austria (AT) on 1 June 2017, AER will continue to convene and deliver joint policy influencing work for the future cohesion policy by:
- Holding regular debates on cohesion policy among members and between members and relevant stakeholders, such as the “Cohesion Policy: are you getting anything out of it?” debate during the AER Committees’ Autumn Plenary Meeting in Nancy on 12 September.
- Gathering facts and figures on cohesion investments results and impact for a evidence-based advocacy.
- Disseminating the AER position on future cohesion policy to key stakeholders and decision-makers in-country (in coordination with member regions) and in Brussels.
- Working together with other European associations of regions, municipalities and cities and the Committee of the Regions to generate broader support for regions interests and policy proposals, including #CohesionAlliance created to demand that the EU budget after 2020 makes cohesion policy stronger, more effective, visible and available for every region in the European Union.
The Task Force on Cohesion Policy post 2020 will continue to support the work of AER in this field, providing strategic direction and oversight.
These actions aim to ensure European regions engage in the future cohesion policy discussions at regional, national and European level, and meaningfully contribute to the design and implementation of a stronger and more effective reformed policy.
Following the publication of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework on May 2nd, AER’s reaction can be found here
AER Report on Regionalisation: ongoing
More than 40 academic experts accepted to give their contribution to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
COP23 Local and Regional governments Leaders´ Summit: finished
AER was a partner to the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leadersat the UN climate change conference (COP23) held from 6 to 17 November in Bonn, Germany, under the Presidency of Fiji. The event gathered more than 330 political leaders and 1000 delegates. At the Summit, local and regional leaders adopted the Bonn-Fiji Commitment to Deliver the Paris Agreement at All Levels, a pledge that signals their commitment to bring forward a critical shift in global development.
AER also contributed to a number of other events, including:
-8th Annual Sustainable Innovation Forum, organised by UNEP and Climate Action.
-World Climate Summit 2017, organised by R20 and BlueOrchard, in collaboration with World Climate.
-Side Event “Mountains in motion: Climate Action in the Alps, the Carpathians and the Pyrenees”, co-organised by the Region of Abruzzo.
R20 Summit: finished
In presence of AER and R20 President, Magnus Berntsson, R20 founding chair, Arnold Schwarzenegger and all key people playing a part in climate change (private partners, NGOs, officials). R20 is a winning alliance for AER, but where do we stand?
Financing climate action: ongoing
AER works alongside R20, Blue Orchard and Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation to set up a 350 million $ Subnational Climate Fund to finance climate projects in European regions. In August AER met the European Investment Bank to pursue negociations. AER is now providing members with privileged access to a training on the SOURCE system which allows stakeholders to access funding for their climate action.
33rd Session of the Congress Local and Regional Authorities: finished
AER has a partnership status with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. It sends high-level representatives to the meetings of the Congress and sits in the Chamber of Regions Bureau. On 19 October, the AER President, Magnus Berntsson, took part in the 33rd Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and addressed the Chamber of Regions during the debate on “Regional Co-operation and democracy in Europe: the role of European regional associations and organisations”. At the Session, the AER and the Congress expanded their existing collaboration by signing a Joint Action Plan for 2018-2020. The document reiterates the commitment to work together on various issues of mutual interest, notably regional democracy, youth participation and cultural diversity.
ERDF Funding for Regional Airports & State Aid for regional airports: ongoing
AER members get regular updates from the Working Group on transports and mobility’s Regional Airports expert Roger Estefors at meetings of the group. The Nancy meeting featured an update on the topic too.
Sustainable biofuels: finished
AER member regions have been exchanging experiences on the topic of sustainable energy for many years and developped different projects on the topic, such as for instance the MORE4NRG and R4GG projects or the global engagement with the R20
The region of Oppland is very active in AER on the topics of energy and the circular economy. In 2016 the YRN Spring Plenary was hosted by Oppland and delegates visited a recycling plant which produces biogas was also featured in the Autumn 2017 edition of Revolve Magazine as an outstanding regional good practice.
Description of the action. The region of Oppland proposed to exchange experiences on the topic of 2nd generation sustainable biofuels, for example from waste and forest resources.
Legislation on biogas: finished
The AER secretariat connected regions which were interested in initiating a lobbying action. Regions had diverging priorities, the connection therefore did not result in a joint action.